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‘Relevance deprivation syndrome’: Storm boss Donaghy blasts Smith critics

“All he said was, ‘Maybe there’s merit in getting ahead of this thing, taking a deep breath, devising a strategy and mapping it out’. I’m all for that.

“It’s a cool, calm approach and it was following our proposal we sent to the ARL Commission last week. The ARLC have said ‘play on’ and we fully support that, including Cameron. As I said, it was only a suggestion for their consideration.”

As revealed in The Sun-Herald, the Storm submitted their own document to the ARLC last week, well before the full wrath of coronavirus and its effects started to be realised.

Included in the document was postponing the competition for four rounds, if necessary playing the next four rounds behind closed doors ahead of a late November finish.

Smith said after the win over Manly on Sunday how he and his teammates had concerns over the health of their loved ones, and added: “If we make a decision to suspend the competition for a couple of weeks, it gives everyone an opportunity to sum up the situation a lot better rather than being reactive daily or hourly.”

Some players have since agreed with Smith’s logic, including St George Illawarra forward and expectant father Trent Merrin and Cronulla halfback Chad Townsend.

Townsend took to Twitter on Monday because he felt at the time few players had voiced their opinion on what should happen in response to coronavirus, and while happy to play on, told the Herald on Tuesday he was just as happy for the competition to be put on ice.

“I back up Cameron with his thoughts, he’s one of the leaders in the NRL playing group, and he’s taking the cautious approach,” Townsend said.

“There are so many unknowns at the moment [in relation to the virus]. I want to make it clear we want to play 26 rounds of rugby league, and whether that means delaying the game a bit now and we make it up at the back end of the year, as players we all have bills and mortgages like everyone else, we want to play and get paid … if that was to happen I’d support it.

“We’re rugby league players, we’re athletes, this is what we train and live for, and if that means playing into November or even December I’m happy to do it.”

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Meanwhile, the Storm are scheduled to fly in and out of Sydney late Saturday for their clash against Cronulla. The Storm booked commercial flights last week, well before it emerged the game would continue behind closed doors in round two. Staff were also ordered to work from home last week.

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